Tag Archive: Justified


Well, then. Justified managed to subvert virtually all expectations with its third season finale if you were expecting them to be the action-fests that were the first and second season closers. It was still a great way to cap the season, and it certainly matched the more mature and tense mood of the season (as compared to the more testosterone driven affairs of the past), but still, I manage to blame myself for being somewhat disappointed with this season finale. I was expecting something a little more explosive (especially considering the literal explosions at the end of last week’s “Coalition.“), and Justified doubled down on cerebral. And when that worked, it was wonderful, but there were still times when it felt like the show was trying to be a little more than it is (I really hope it doesn’t begin to suffer from what I call “The Walking Dead wants to be serious TV” syndrome). Regardless, it brought the season to a close by resolving at least one major storyline and leaving plenty of opportunities for next season’s drama.

Well. This episode was busy (like pretty much every other episode this season). Raylen’s State Trooper friend, Tom Bergen, dies from the gunshot wound he received. Johnny Crowder is telling all of the cops at the scene that it was Quarles (who is missing by the time any other police arrive), and after Raylen arrives and interrogates Boyd, he learns that the car bomb was set up by Wynn Duffy who Raylen decides to pay a visit for some “enhanced interrogation.” He shows up at Wynn’s RV, has the State Troopers haul away Duffy’s bodyguard, and then he and Duffy have a heart-to-heart alone in the RV. Raylen pulls out his revolver, puts one bullet in it (though I believe he actually palmed the bullet before hand rather than actually placing it in the cylinder [though the episode never shows so maybe Raylen really leaped over the line]), and tells Duffy that every time he lies to him , he’s going to pull the trigger. Duffy thinks Raylen’s bluffing until Raylen pulls the gun trigger twice when he tells him that this was all set up by Limehouse as a way to potentially get rid of both of the thorns in his backside (Quarles and Crowder). So Raylen shows up at Limehouse’s to arrest him for accessory to murder. Limehouse protests and Raylen pulls a gun on him. However, all of Limehouse’s men show up and pull their guns on Raylen (Raylen never actually fires his gun this episode. Spoiler). Limehouse gets Raylen to back down by promising him Boyd on a silver platter which is to say he spills the beans on the murder of Devil and the location of Devil’s body.

When Boyd gets a call from Sheriff Shelby (Jim Beaver) warning him that the police are on his trail (and letting Boyd know that the two are officially squre), he believes that there’s a rat in his organization. While the rat later turns out to be Johnny (who still blames Boyd for getting him shot in the stomach by Bo), they believe it’s Arlo whose dementia and relationship with hooker Ellen Mae (who Ava beats the shit out of because she falsely believes she’s the rat) mean it would have been easy for him to have the loose lips that sank the ship. The police eventually pick Johnny up for the murder because he knows he won’t be able to run away. Quarles has kidnapped two kids (and their mother but he lets her go) and is trying to get even with the Dixie mafia and concocts a scheme to rob Limehouse of his money. He uses the kids as bait to lure Raylen away from the cops (with no chance for the heroic return they made last season when he was nearly shot by Coover Bennett) and as a human shield against Limehouse (along with a small child). However, one of Limehouse’s men (who had sent away for reasons I still don’t understand) returns in the nick of time and shoots Quarles. Quarles tries to draw his sleeve gun but Limehouse chops his arm off instead. Cue me yelling “holy shit” at the top of my lungs. As Quarles is dying, we find out that he didn’t shoot the state trooper. It was Raylen’s dad, Arlo. Arlo thought it was Raylen… ouch. Arlo is being deemed mentally incompetent by his counsel (and since he sees dead people, he pretty much is) but he’s smart enough to take the rap for killing Devil to get Boyd off the hook.

Let’s start with the highlights before I pick apart the plot problems I had. A) Timothy Olyphant was perhaps at his best of the entire series. This episode is his Emmy submission tape. He displayed such a wide array of emotions. Mournful sorrow when he discovered what happened to Tom Bergen. Terrifying fury when he was playing Russian Roulette with Wynn Duffy. Confusion and distress when his father apologized to him for the way he treated him as a boy. Horrific shock when he realized who finally shot Tom. And intentionally restrained but heartbroken emotion when he has to drag his father into the police station. I mean, damn (this is the second time I’ve thought of Ron Simmons as I’ve typed that word). Similarly, for dark comedy gold, I’m not sure if you can beat Quarles reaching for his severed hand and Raylen pulling it away like he’s Lucy taking the football away from Charlie Brown. I literally laughed out loud during a scene that involved dismemberment, and Raylen’s joke to Winona later about how the people at work were saying he’d “disarmed” Quarles just seemed like the perfect thing to have Raylen say in that situation. Quarles was also appropriately nutso in his final appearance (there’s no way he survived being shot and dismembered. I would have to call some serious bullshit there), and Mykelti Williamson finally had more to do than to look menacing as he chopped up meat (though we finally realized why he’s always around those damn dead pigs).

Here are my problems though (and there are more of them than I wish there had been). First off, while I was eventually able to figure out why Limehouse had sent Errol away (I’m pretty sure it had to do with the botched Oxycontin clinic robbery that Errol had tried to set up without Limehouse’s permission), it was not a comprehensible scene in the episode whatsoever. There was almost nothing in the way of explaining why it’s happening, and I’m a smart guy who was able to always follow The Wire and Lost without any one having to explain things to me. That scene just felt so weird and was just an obvious excuse to allow Errol to make his heroic turn later in the episode (Did he end up getting shot by Quarles? that scene happened so fast that I couldn’t tell). Also, Johnny’s turn as a rat isn’t really unexpected. He’s sold out both Bo and Boyd in the past. Being a rat is in his blood, but there could have been anything resembling foreshadowing for this rather than springing it on us at the last minute as another way to complicate this already complex story. Similarly, I’m never going to love Joelle Carter as Ava (or the character), and I thought she was just a little too over the top (as well as the direction of the scene) when she was beating on Ellen Mae.

I’m going to draw this review to a close (though there are other things I have to say) because I want to play a little bit of Persona 4 at the moment, and I’m getting to the point in my life where all I feel like I do is write all day. I love to write so I don’t care, but there are definitely moments when I want to give my typing a rest so I don’t get carpal-tunnel syndrome (though playing a video game isn’t going to help me out there). I’m excited to see that Limehouse is still very much alive at the end of this episode, and while there’s a possibility that he’s going to go to jail, I doubt it, and maybe they’re setting him up as next season’s Big Bad, a role which could also go to Wynn  Duffy who was also very much alive at episode’s end (though much more likely to be arrested). Considering that I never fully invested in this season’s main story arc, I’m torn as to whether I actually in the end think it’s better than season 2. I think the storytelling was more consistent and cohesive, but the highs never quite matched Mags Bennett, and I guess that’s what happens when you don’t have a villain as magnetic as Margot Martindale.

Final Score: A-

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Here’s my promise to readers. Unless I somehow end up going to two or three concerts in a row for work, I’m never going to go more than 24 hours between consuming some bit of popular culture (in this case Justified) and doing my post about it. My writing on here has suffered because of it, and if I honestly had my way, I would do all of my posts immediately after I watched the show, but for obvious reasons, that won’t always be possible. So with that apology out of the way for the manner in which my writing on here has slipped on occasion over these last couple of weeks because I have placed my blog at the bottom of my list of priorities, let’s look into the penultimate episode of the wonderful third season of Justified. It wasn’t quite the explosive episode I thought it was going to be (not until the final moments anyways), but it still provided plenty of twists and turns, and looking back on this season, it’s shocking about how many fates have changed and faltered because of the incompetency and greed of other men.

Where to begin? Much like the rest of this season, it would almost be easy to lose track of the many cons, schemes, and grifts that are being run by our many villains. Last week ended with Boyd Crowder finally getting the drop on Robert Quarles. After using a taser to knock Quarles unconscious, Boyd left him chained (only by the legs for some incredibly dumb-ass reason) and under armed watch in a trailer at the local whore-house (though he left him two whores as playthings. Once again, for reasons I don’t understand. Boyd isn’t that dumb.). Obviously, Quarles manages to escape despite being under armed guard because the prostitutes guarding him were stupid and the man with the gun guarding the trailer was even dumber. To compound Boyd’s complications, Errol (Limehouse’s lieutenant whose name I’ve finally managed to learn) arrives at Boyd’s bar with Dickie Bennett in tow. Right before Boyd nearly beats Dickie to death, Errol lets Boyd know about the $3.2 million that Limehouse has stored in a bank in Harlan County (though not Harlan the town I think. some place whose name I can’t spell. Gallaton or something like that. Someone out there can assuredly correct me). Though Arlo wants to murder Dickie regardless (because Dickie killed Ava) as does Boyd (for shooting Ava), it is Ava that says they should spare Dickie until they can get a hold of the money. So, Boyd sends Ava and Arlo to case the bank which is when he learns that Quarles escaped (because Raylen showed up at the trailer where Quarles was being held on a tip from Sheriff Napier [like I said, there’s a million schemes this season]). Raylen is also called to the bank by the local State Policeman we’ve seen throughout the series because Arlo and Ava showed up there after Dickie showed up at Boyd’s bar. It’s obvious to all of law enforcement what Boyd’s plans are.

Raylen pays a visit to Limehouse where Raylen finally learns who’s been pulling all of the strings in this little game (Limehouse). Errol has lied to Dickie (and by proxy Boyd) about the whereabouts of Mags’ money so that all of Boyd’s men (plus Quarles who Limehouse has assigned to assassinate Boyd to pay off Quarles’ debt to Limehouse) will all be in one place at once. The plan falls apart at the last minute when Boyd finally gets wise to what’s really going on. Boyd had sent Ava and Arlo off to stay safely but Arlo’s dementia finally takes over completely (he’s having full-blown conversations with the deceased Helen), and in a fit of paranoid rage, he pulls a gun on Ava and locks her in a closet and runs off to parts unknown. When Boyd can’t get a hold of Ava, he goes off to find her leaving Dickie and Errol in the care of the crippled Johnny (once again, it’s like he’s just asking for them to get away). Dickie attacks Johnny, and takes his gun. He forces Errol at gunpoint to tell him where the money is and for the second time this season, we finally hear from young Loretta, who Mags Bennett left all her money to (not Dickie, her actual son). However, Raylen is already at the house because Limehouse has struck a deal with Raylen wherein Loretta can keep the money (because Raylen just wants to keep Loretta safe). Raylen shoots Dickie (not fatally) when Dickie draws on him and so Dickie is on his way back to jail. Things aren’t over yet though because Limehouse is forced to order Quarles to go to Boyd’s bar itself to kill Boyd (Boyd has also managed to convince Win Duffy to rig a remote bomb to Quarles’ car). A high-as-shit Quarles (on oxycontin) shows up at Boyd’s bar. Right as he is about to pull his gun out of his shirt sleeve (Travis Bickle’s style), Win blows up the car bomb (trying to kill Boyd and Quarles at once). The police show up and Quarles guns down Raylen’s State Trooper friend. Shit just got real in Harlan County.

Whew. Justified is starting to get nearly as complicated as Game of Thrones. That has been both this season’s greatest strength, and I’m starting to grow concerned that it might end up being it’s biggest weakness. I’m never confused as to what’s happening, and every action seems perfectly plausible within the context of the show’s universe. However, this week found people failing because of severe incompetence, and for some of these individuals (especially Boyd Crowder), they don’t normally seem this dumb. Ever since Boyd got himself shot (and got all of his men killed by his own father), he’s seemed to wise up considerably, and he made a shocking amount of dumb mistakes this episode. No one’s perfect, and maybe we were just supposed to see the fallibility of previous incarnations of Boyd Crowder, but there’s a line between showing that he makes mistakes and turning him into a dumbass. Which he completely momentarily was. Also, with the exception of finally resolving the case of where Mags’ money was, this season finale is going to have to solve a lot of problems in a single hour of TV. There are still plenty of plays to be made, and with the introduction of a murdered police officer (Quarles made a point of discussing his use of hollow point bullets and how lethal they are. There’s no way that cop survived point blank.), things can only get more complex. The strength of this series’ season finales has always been how explosive and emotionally satisfying they’ve been (Season 1’s finale was literally almost perfect). I’m hoping the show can maintain the high standard set by other seasons’ finales.

I can’t believe this season’s almost over. Unlike some other shows I’ve been watching as they’ve aired this winter (The Walking Dead cough cough Glee), Justified has never let me down a single time this season. I’m pretty sure the lowest score I’ve given to an episode this season was a B+. That’s a pretty damn good season in my book (and that was only one episode out of the 12 that have aired so far). I haven’t given a single “A” thus far, but here’s hoping the Season finale does something to change that. I’m really curious to see which villains live through the finale. I feel like Boyd has immunity. The show just isn’t going to kill off it’s second biggest star, so that means we’re likely saying goodbye to both Limehouse and Quarles. It will be really interesting to see how the show tries to fill the power vacuum in Harlan County when these two Big Bads finally meet their maker.

Final Score: A-

It’s time to use those imagination skills that were heaped on us by copious amounts of PBS programming as children and the warm, soothing voice of Geordie Lafo… Kunte Ki… Lavar Burton. Sorry. Picture a long-haired, handsome man with a deep, southern drawl. He’s in his early 20s likely. He works for the city, and it’s the 7os. So, add the appropriate wardrobe details. He still hangs out with high school kids cause well you know the line. If you aren’t picturing Wooderson (Matthew McConaughey) yet, you should probably just leave my blog. Now, you need to hear him say “L I V I N. Livin’ ” cause that’s what I’ve been doing these last several weeks. And that’s why my blog output has trickled to a slow, dripping faucet crawl. I’ve been doing a lot of work… a ton of work. I went to concerts two nights in a row without getting to go home after work after either them. So for Wednesday and Thursday, I was gone from 9:40 AM til 1 Am. I was supposed to do another concert that following Friday but I could literally barely walk so that one I was mercifully able to skip. And then this weekend, I hung out with a friend, and I’ve just been really busy socializing in general which has left little time for this blog. I can’t tell if this is good or not. This blog was largely formed out of the need for me to find some constructive way to direct my large amounts of free/lonely time, but suddenly I don’t have so much or really any of that anymore and I couldn’t be happier. Anyways, let’s talk about Justified since the next episode like airs tomorrow and I don’t want to fall behind in a two episode review again.

So, since I obviously watched this like a week ago, I don’t really remember anything that happened. Whatsoever. I mean, I guess I remember the larger plot points, but the details are all completely gone. Also, honestly since I still have like three other reviews to do after this (plus work stuff), I’m going to make this short and sweet. Hitmen from Detroit have arrived in Harlan to take out Robert Quarles who is finally becoming too much of a hassle for everyone. Even Win Duffy has sold him out at this point. However, after pushing, Sheriff Napier too far, it is Boyd Crowder who finally has the last laugh on Quarles as he uses Napier to sell out Quarles and they attack Quarles from behind with a taser and have him tied up naked in a whore’s trailer waiting to do with him as they please (potentially selling him out alive to the Dixie Mafia). Dickie Bennett has been released from jail and he is also an inevitable thorn in everyone’s side. Boyd wants to kill him for shooting Ava, and Limehouse wants him out of hte picture to protect himself from Dickie getting ahold of Mags’s money. Dickie is able to convince one of Limehouse’s top men to switch sides and this Limehouse lieutenant says the only way the job could be done is if they get Boyd Crowder on their side. Oh snap.

There was a ton happening this episode, because if there’s been one over-riding theme this season, it’s been about how many plots and schemes and xanatos gambits you could stick into a single story. I would have more commentary about the acting or the plotting or the generally mood and style of the episode but these are the sorts of things you forget after a week, and I just really hope that no one judges the quality of this blog based solely upon this admittedly subpar review. I’ve written several thousands words since that last episode ended, primarily for my day job as a music journalist and I hope you can forgive me for not remembering a hell of a lot of the details of the episode which are honestly some of the most important things in any given episode of Justified. Here are some things that stick in my mind. I really hope that Dickie Bennett survives the season because Jeremy Davies is endlessly enjoyable to watch in any role, and Dickie is coming close to being as memorable as Daniel Farraday back on Lost. I know pretty much completely that Quarles and Limehouse will both be out of the picture by the end of the season which is a shame because we’re now finally finding out enough about Quarles to make him a truly magnetic villain like Mags (though he’ll never be as good as Mags).

There are only two episodes left in the season, and this episode didn’t feature any game-changing events other than Boyd capturing Quarles, although something tells me that Quarles is going to get away (and kill a couple of Boyd’s whores in the process). This show tends to jam-pack its final two episodes of a season with a ton of explosive moments, so I don’t think it’s unfair to have high expectations for these next two weeks. I just want to make one last comment which is that the A- I’m giving this episode does not mean the same thing as the A- I’m giving Game of Thrones. It’s obviously a better show. However, Justified never feels like it’s trying to be good. It’s just one of those shows that somehow miraculously is. There’s an effortlessness to its entertainment factor, and because it never really feels like it needs to try, it will never be truly great, but this season has been without fail, a ton of fun, and thus it get’s an “A-” on a scale of intent and ambition versus actual produced quality. That’s all. i did learn an important lesson that I should never wait a whole week to review an episode of this show especially when that results in me being 5 blog posts behind (before I wrote my Game of Thrones post anyways.

Final Score: A-

Sweet Jesus. I have done a fuck ton of writing today. Pardon the French. I reviewed the new Odd Future album for work (which you can read here) plus I’ve done three other blog posts today (Dexter, The Walking Dead, and Justified) Watching a couple episodes of TV (while I eat) and then writing about things that I’m absurdly behind on has how I’ve spent my entire Friday because I’m a wild and crazy guy like that. Much like my review for the last two discs of Dexter, I’ve fallen so behind on my blogging for this website that I’m going to have to review two episodes of Justified at once, and not only am I doing that, the second episode of this series still aired like three days ago. To say that I’ve been distracted lately would be the understatement of the century, but it’s been the best kind of distracting so whatever. My blog can wait. Anyways, am I the only person in America right now who thinks that Justified has quickly become the most under-rated show on cable television? It never gets the attention of your The Walking Deads, Mad Mens, or Breaking Bads (let alone the hype of an HBO program), but it still manages to impress me week in and week out. I wouldn’t put it quite in the same league as the latter two shows I mentioned, but it doesn’t try to be yet it still manages to outperform The Walking Dead every week despite The Walking Dead‘s pretensions to be actual art.

These were two episodes with extremely complicated and intertwined plots (especially episode 9, “Loose Ends”) that having watched them over the course of two weeks now, all of the details are starting to fuzz in my mind. I’m learning an important lesson that I’ve apparently forgotten this semester which is that I should never wait more than 48 hours after an episode of a show ends to post my review of it. Otherwise, my memory is going to be completely worth shit (like it is right now). Essentially, things are becoming increasingly personal between Boyd Crowder and Robert Quarles as each man wants his “man” to win the upcoming election for Sheriff. Boyd was imprisoned after being framed for blowing up current Sheriff Napier’s car but Raylen quickly discovers it was a frame job and reluctantly works to helping Boyd get freed. There was a whole lot more going on in that first episode (mostly involving land mines, Limehouse, explosions, murdered prostitutes, and eventually murdered pimps) but I want to keep this review short cause I just want to be caught up and I’ve written something like 5000 words today. I am all typed out. The first episode ended with Boyd freed, Ava having killed again and now the new Madam of Harlan County despite her initial rule for Boyd of no prostitutes.

Since I watched the tenth episode, (“Guy Walks Into a Bar”) today, my memories of it are much clearer although the sheer amount of writing I’ve done today has sort of muddled my brain a bit. It’s finally time for the election for Sheriff. After Napier/Quarles send two dirty cops to plant drugs in Boyd’s candidate’s car, Boyd realizes that things have gotten personal. Boyd sets up a hilarious mechanism to ensure that no matter what his man wins the election even though Napier ended up winning the popular vote. This pisses Quarles off supremely (especially after Boyd taunts him immediately afterwards). Spiraling even further into his oxy addiction, Quarles is confronted by a young male prostitute who knows the prostitute Quarles was accused of killing. Quarles tells the story of his childhood where his father prostituted him and he killed his father at the age of 14 (when he was inducted into the Dixie Mafia). While he embraces the boy as someone who has suffered the life he lives, after a tense stand-off in a bar with Raylen (where the two nearly have a shoot-out), we find Quarles doing drugs in his room and with that same boy locked up in his bathroom. There’s an entire plot in the episode about Raylen trying to convince Judge Rearden to not let Dickie Bennett out of jail but at the end Raylen just says “what the hell” essentially and lets Dickie go which should lead to conflict with both Boyd and Limehouse.

The scene in “Guy Walks into a Bar” with Raylen and Quarles was one of the best-written moments of the season (though the scene in “Loose Ends” where Boyd gives a rousing speech for his sheriff candidate was almost as bad-ass as the moment where he embarrassed his father in church back in Season 1). There was just so much masculinity and tension dripping off of that scene that any women in the audience might have gotten pregnant just by watching it (that was a joke. please don’t accuse me of being sexist anyone). Neal McDonough was phenomenal this week. I mean, I was just astounded. This was some of the best work he’s done since Band of Brothers. Without question. The scenes where he’s addled on the oxycontin and recounting what it was like to be sex trafficked by his own father was wrenching, and then when he confronted Raylen and was completely ready to die, it was terrifying. This man had better get an Emmy nomination. This week was his submission tape. He’ll never beat Peter Dinklage or Aaron Paul but he had better at least be recognized.

There’s only three episodes left in this season. Neither Quarles or Limehouse will ever be as good as Mags Bennett was (although Quarles came pretty damn close this week), but that’s ok because the writing has been razor sharp the whole season, and if the first two seasons of the show still mean anything, we can expect things to finally start spiralling out of control next week. We’re getting at the point in the season where no character is safe and lesser villains on the totem pole start dropping off before however the bloodbath of the finale winds up going down. I am so glad my dad bought me the first season of this show for Christmas because it has been a show that has gotten better with age rather than sporadic ups and downs. It has consistently improved, and while it will never aspire to be artsy TV, it remains one of the most undeniably entertaining and fresh shows on the market.

Final Score: A-

Spending all of my time writing at work is putting a slight strain on my ability to maintain my former levels of output for this blog. It’s not that I enjoy writing any less than I did before, but after I spend a 7 hour shift churning out copy non-stop (I’m a beast of an intern when it comes to producing copy [copy is a journalism term for editorial content for those wondering what I mean]), when I get home, I just want to relax and enjoy myself and not put as much thought into my recreational activities. Don’t worry loyal readers. Unless I were to get a full-time job writing (as opposed to working 3 days a week as an intern), I’m never even going to consider abandoning my blog. I just want you all to know why I don’t necessarily write as much as I used to and why it seems to take me a day to get up my TV reviews after the episodes have aired (instead of the night they aired like last semester). With that little rant out of the way, let’s get back to Harlan, KY and the world of Justified as all of the pieces in the four man game of chess (Sheldon once invented three-person chess on Big Bang Theory) that is the battle for control of Harlan (well, Raylen doesn’t want to control Harlan. He just wants law and order but you get what I mean).

There were more plots, counterplots, and schemes going on in this episode than an issue of Death Note (I seriously need to get around to watching that anime for this blog but I need to finishNeon Genesis Evangelionfirst. My bad with that last one… I know) so prepare to be a little confused if you haven’t seen the episode yet. As Raylen gets his drink/new bouncer duties on at the bar below his new apartment, Quarles, Winn Duffy, and their heavies drop Gary off in front of Winona’s house and tell him to deliver a message to Raylen. When Gary asks what that message is, Quarles shoots and kills him. The next day, Raylen gets a call from the Lexington PD about Gary’s murder and learns that as Winona’s ex-husband (who had a known history of violent incidences involving Gary), he is a suspect in the investigation (and that’s before a pile of framed evidence lands on the Lexington PD’s door). To make matters worse for Raylen, Sammy Tonin (the Dixie Mafia hood that Quarles threatened last week) also tries to frame Raylen as a dirty cop to appease Quarles as well as to trick the FBI who he knows are trailing him. Raylen is forced to race against the clock to find the evidence that he knows Quarles and Duffy planted on his property to frame him for Gary’s murder (not counting the way that Raylen’s little “the next one will be coming faster” line when he threw a bullet at Duffy came back to bite him in the ass as that bullet was the one used to murder Gary). While Raylen is able to find the gun used to kill Gary with Winona’s help and the FBI drop their investigation into him (because I’m pretty sure the Fed is the one that’s dirty), Gary’s murder case hasn’t disappeared and it’s clear to Quarles that he’s going to have to take drastic measures to take care of his Raylen problem. Quarles is so unhinged that he took what appeared to be oxycontin and in a drugged out state took Limehouse up on his offer from earlier in the episode to “back the winning team” aka Quarles.

That little recap left out an entire other subplot where the crooked sheriff of Harlan County, Sheriff Napier, intentionally had his own police cruiser blown up so that he could frame Boyd Crowder for an assassination attempt to both A) curtail Boyd’s oxy business to help out Quarles and to B ) send a message to Boyd that his decision to have Ellsworth from Deadwood run for Sheriff wasn’t going to be taken lightly. So, this was a busy episode. It was fairly short on the action, but that was alright because this was without a doubt one of the most cerebral and intense episodes of the entire series. Quarles (and by extension Limehouse) has provided plenty of great moments this season but at this point in the game, I know he’s never going to have the depth of Mags Bennett, but there’s a cool sophistication to so many of his stories and the way that his tight-knit plans go straight to hell because of the incompetency of his employees (and his penchant for rape and torture) gives this season a lurid side it lacked in the past, but there’s also an intelligence and complexity in schemes that was missing in the relatively straightforward first two seasons. The biggest scam anyone ever pulled was Mags on the coal company, and while Quarles may not have achieved anything that grand, even his most simplest schemes have you wondering exactly how many other cards he has up his sleeves. Neal McDonough has been expertly menacing as Quarles this season and when he inevitably takes a bullet from one of the three other major players this season, I’ll be sad to see his presence go.

I’ll keep the rest of this review short because like I said, I spend all day writing at work now. I’d like the chance to maybe play a little Skyrim before I go to bed and go right back to work tomorrow to continue writing (on a positive note, unlike last semester, I’ve learned how to enjoy Skyrim without letting it become my sole recreational activity). This season hasn’t had the sort of instantly recognizable magnetism that Margo Martindale brought as Mags, but that’s okay because the writing has been so much better. Our two new villains haven’t revealed especially vast levels of depth, but the show has done a superb job of actually grounding itself as a serialized program rather than a show you could miss a couple weeks of and not be too confused. This season has really dug deep wells of continuity either by referencing incidents all the way from Season 1 (Hello, District Attorney Vasquez [or whatever your actual title is]) as well as making seemingly minor incidents from earlier in this season become important such as Raylen throwing the bullet. Justified has started to open up in such a way that it rewards loyal viewers and as one such loyal viewer, I appreciate the treats.

Final Score: A-

Well, I guess it had to happen eventually. After a rock solid six episodes to begin the season, Justified finally found a hiccup for the season. By no stretch of the imagination am I saying it was a bad episode or that it wasn’t entertaining, it was still fun, guilty pleasure TV. However, “The Man Behind the Curtain,” will likely go down in the history books as the first real filler episode of the season. Although “filler” isn’t quite the right word as it laid the foundation for what will surely be the primary dramatic thrust of the rest of the season and the initial blows that will spark the final fights between the season’s two main villains, our anti-hero Boyd, and everybody’s favorite cowboy cop Raylen. Still, the episode felt very slow moving, and it wasn’t operating in that sphere which is archetypically, Justified. I.e. Raylen/Boyd kicks all sort of ass while spouting absurdly glorious one-liner against villains who actually sound like they come out of an Elmore Leonard novel. While this episode did a serviceable job of continuing to set the pieces into play on how the season will likely end, it simply didn’t satisfy me the way the rest of this high-tension season has, but even in its weakest weeks, Justified is still one of the most entertaining shows on TV.

Since Winona left Raylen at the end of last week’s episode (that whole subplot seemed so poorly foreshadowed. Natalie Zea must be acting on another program), Raylen has moved into the room above a bar taking a gig as a bouncer for a discount on the rent. He bumps into Quarles who isn’t in his usual suit and tie so he possibly ran into Raylen coincidentally though I doubt it. Quarles still believes that Raylen is in the pocket of Boyd Crowder because Raylen took down some of Quarles’ men which would help out Boyd, though Raylen quickly rectifies that misconception (and pays a visit to Boyd to make sure he isn’t spreading the rumor himself). Speaking of the failed oxycontin takeover bid which was led neither by Quarles or Boyd but by a rogue lieutenant of Limehouse, the soldier who tried to pull the whole heist off but was nearly caught by Raylen holes up at Limehouse’s holler (god it feels good to be able to use words like that and not have people look at me funny) to lick his wounds on the condition that he becomes Limehouse’s new mole in the Quarles’ organization. On the Quarles side of the occasion, he is looking for a way to deal with the Boyd Crowder problem while simultaneously pleasing the son of his boss in the Dixie Mafia who has come down to Harlan to assess the situation. Apparently, the reason an efficient man like Quarles has been exiled to the boondocks of Kentucky is that he had tied up and tortured some male street hustler and been caught (which explains why there’s been someone tied up in their new house all season). Though, the Dixie Mafia’s leader’s son initially promises a $50,000 investment into Quarles’ new oxy business, a quick visit from Raylen Givens (and the general fact that the son can’t stand Quarles) leads to the offer of money being withdrawn and Quarles suddenly being very pissed. Things just got real there.

Quarles’ other plan for the week was to use the dirty Sheriff of Harlan County (because the last one ended up dead via trying to kidnap Ava and pissing off Raylen back in Season 1) to put the squeeze on Boyd Crowder. Sheriff Napier (I believe that was his name) looks like some heavy-handed caricature of southern law-enforcement, and all it took to bring him to Quarles’ side was a briefcase full of cash. Napier and his deputies go to Boyd’s bar and shut it down (for being a fire hazard and having illegal video poker machines) to the obvious displeasure of Boyd, Johnny, and Arlo (whose dementia nearly earned him a beating/bullet from Limehouse’s men). Boyd contacts the security man from the mines from season 2 (Jim Beavers is his real name I believe. He played Ellsworth on Deadwood) who had been laid off from the mines in the interim and convinces him to run for Sheriff against Napier to be Boyd’s man in law enforcement. After realizing that Raylen couldn’t be bought and that he wouldn’t give up til he had run him out of town, Quarles heads to Tulsa, Oklahoma where we find Winona’s ex-husband Gary trying to sell a “get rich quick” scheme about real estate. Quarles befriends him at the bar only for Winn to show up at which point is obvious to Gary (and the audience who already knew) that Gary’s life won’t be lasting much longer.

While the episode didn’t actually deliver much in the way of tension or excitement (except for those scenes where Raylen was interacting with Boyd or that initial encounter between Quarles and Raylen in the bar), you can’t say it was for lack of trying. This episode has done a pretty excellent job of avoiding crime of the week tales or at least making those crime of the week stories involve Boyd, Quarles, or Limehouse. This episode avoided that entirely and the only new character we met was Sammy Tonin, the son of the Dixie Mafia leader, who appears to be coming back again next week if Quarles has his way (as well as some new FBI agents, especially the really douchey Stephen Tobolowsky as a territorial G-Man). The story focused almost solely on established heroes and villains of the series. Unfortunately, nothing about the dynamics of these groups really changed other than Raylen seizing Quarles’ property and Boyd knowing just how seriously Quarles’ takes his threat to his business. I might be wrong, but I don’t think a single bullet was fired. I’m not saying that an episode of Justified needs to have a ton of action to be good, but part of what makes this series so great is how well it knows its own identity these days. And it’s identity is pulpy, lurid crime thriller. When it strays too far from this base, the show starts to lose its unique voice.

I’m sick today (stomach problems), so I apologize if my output is a little limited. Actually, I would have been at work virtually the whole day if I weren’t sick, so never mind, I don’t apologize. This wouldn’t have been up til nearly 8 PM if I had been forced to write it when I got off work. But, there probably won’t be a ton of posts today is my point (though I still have a post to write up for a documentary I watched today as I tried to convalesce but that will be fairly short). Anyways, as I’ve said a couple of times now, it was a slow week for Raylen Givens, but it definitely ended with the possibility that next week should up the ante for the series, and from the trailers for next week, it certainly looks like that’s the case. With both The Walking Dead and Glee returning from their mid-season breaks (although Glee is already back on another break) and fixing most of (though not all of) the problems that plagued them last semester, this trio of Glee, Justified, and TWD promises to keep me entertained until their respective seasons finally come to an end.

Final Score: B+

 

Ever since I moved up to NYC, I’ve realized that my weekly sojourns into the backwoods of Harlan County have become my own sort of hour long return to Appalachia and home (although Barbour and Monangalia counties in WV are not remotely as bad as Harlan County, KY). Despite the fact that I witness pretty much the most depraved and worst aspects of my mountains and hollers of my part of the country, it’s nice to still see those trees and mountains and hollers when all I see is row and row of steel titans every day. However, there was absolutely nothing comforting about my return to Harlan County during Tuesday’s episode of Justified thanks to one of the creepiest and most disturbing tales they’ve covered in the entire series. While the show has always maintained this pulp, dime novel feel, it had never felt quite so lurid and deranged as it did during Tuesday’s, “Thick As Mud.” Since the episode’s story was written by Elmore Leonard himself, it explains everything and for the easily disturbed, last night’s escapades might be a little too much.

After the epic failure that was the attempts to steal Dickie Bennett’s money from Elstin Limehouse and Dickie (as it turns out Elstin was lying as much to Dickie as everyone assumed), Dewie Crowe has now been held hostage by the prison nurse. After Dewie wakes up in a blood filled bath-tub with massive incisions on both sides of his stomach, he’s informed that both of his kidneys have been removed and he’s got 4 hours to come up with $20,000 if he wants to get them back. Dewie’s an idiot though and after attempting to rob a liquor store, he gets fired on by a religious store owner who didn’t take kindly to Dewie’s panic-stricken blasphemy where he winds up holed up in a closet til the police arrive. As it turns out, Dewie’s kidneys hadn’t been taken out. It was all a scheme by the nurse and his other female nurse friend to scam Dewie for $20,000 and then harvest his organs. Raylen is nearly harvested himself when he gets a needle stuck in his neck Dexter style by the prison nurse. However, the female nurse betrays the prison nurse and shoots him, just as Raylen is waking up who shoots the woman through her dead former partner. When Raylen gets home after nearly dying, there’s a note in an empty house but we don’t know what it says. I’m guessing Winona left him. The last main plot point of the episode was a very tense first meeting between Boyd and Quarles where Boyd called Quarles a carpetbagger and essentially told him he could expect a bullet if he didn’t leave Harlan.

There wasn’t enough Boyd in this episode, but other than that, it was easily the most disturbing thing the series has ever done. Although it turned out that they hadn’t really taken out Dewie’s kidneys, they waited so long into the episode to tell you that fact that you spent pretty much the whole time on the edge of your seat wondering how Dewie was going to survive (Dewie’s inherent stupidity is like some super armor against the violent death he should have met several times on the show, and also I would be more pissed if he died than if Winona or Ava [especially Ava] met their ends). It didn’t feel like a cop out at the end when they admitted that his kidneys were still there because it confirmed how dumb Dewie was and it led to the shocking scene where someone actually got the leg up on Raylen. You don’t normally see him screw up, and you were wondering what miracle would save him. It turns out the sedative was weak and the woman nurse didn’t think he had it in him to shoot a woman (He didn’t think he had it in him either). While there wasn’t much Boyd, his showdown with Quarles obviously points to bigger things to come. Everyone in this town is playing a dangerous game and we all know that in the end, it’s going to be up to Raylen to clean up whatever explosions inevitably erupt. Neal McDonough and Walton Goggins had fantastic chemistry, and you could just cut the tension in that scene with a butter knife thanks to the brilliant subtlety and nuance of both of their performances. I’m not sure if I’d rather see Raylen bring Quarles down to size or see Boyd do it instead.

At first, I thought this episode had the potential to take a detour into Eli Roth schlock territory but it mercifully avoided those easy trappings. Instead, we got another darkly comic adventure that actually focused on a B-lister in the cast but was for more engaging than any random criminal of the week story could have been. I’ve definitely enjoyed the way that this season has played with the criminal of the week structure and the way that it’s become much more connected with the main plots. However, nothing can beat an episode devoted to the criminal incompetency of the character we all love to hate (and laugh at). This has easily been the best season of the series and while neither Quarles or Limehouse have yet to top Mags Bennet as villains, I’m sure there times to shine are still on the way.

Final Score: A-

In its first two seasons, Justified has been fairly conservative about killing off established series long characters unless it is in the final episodes of the season. Generally, when the bodies of non-criminals of the week begin to pile up, you know that Raylen is close to closing the books on the season long crime. Well, Justified bucked that trend in last night’s, “The Devil You Know.” As the worlds of Boyd Crowder searching for a way to get Dickie Bennett’s money from Elstin Limehouse collided with Raylen’s investigations into the Dixie Mafia and the mysterious and still unnamed (though fans know his name is Quarles) muscle intent on taking over the town, it was only inevitable that someone would get caught in the crossfire, and when the episode ended, a character who had been around on and off again since the pilot met his maker in those Appalachian hills. So, Graham Yost, we salute you for taking the risk to kill of a character who had been around a while. He wasn’t the most important guy on the show but he was a regular presence and much like with the murder of Helen last season, we know you aren’t playing around.

The episode picks up with Devil (Friday Night Lights [the movie] Kevin Rankin) paying a visit to Quarles who tries to persuade a disgruntled Devil to switch teams and turn his back on Boyd Crowder. Devil wants to remain loyal to Boyd at first, but when the pay for the week is unexpectedly meager, Devil realizes that he’s had enough and tries to enlist Johnny Crowder’s help on staging a coup against Boyd. While it looks like Johnny is playing along with Devil’s plan at first, he was a spy for Boyd all along as Boyd and Johnny are forced to put Devil down for good when Devil draws his gun on Boyd with murderous intentions. It seems Devil didn’t have it in him to be top dog after all though he would have simply gone from being Boyd’s muscle to Quarle’s man in the end. The dirty guard at the prison breaks Dickie out of jail to try and steal Mags’ money that Dickie has left in Limehouse’s care. However, the marshalls are able to put two and two together thanks to the assistance of Boyd Crowder, and Raylen eventually finds the guard (and runs him over with his car. Twice!) though the guard’s cohorts are murdered by Elstin Limehouse’s men and the episode ends with Dickie voluntarily returning himself to prison upset that Limehouse didn’t return even close to the amount of money he believes his mama had hidden away with vows to return and collect what he’s owed.

Just the writing this season has been simply exceptional and tonight was no exception. This series does not lack for stand-out characters and when they’re given such sharply written scripts as this, magic is bound to happen, and it did. Everyone of the major players (whether this is Raylen, Boyd, Quarles, Limehouse, or Dickie) are all such larger than life personalities that when they begin to push up against each other, their confrontations can only be called electric. Raylen relays stories of his father getting the shit beat out of him by Elstin when Raylen was a young boy. Boyd puts down Devil and then quietly talks him to the afterlife with a merciful shot to end the pain. Quarles tries to sell Devil to his team with a similar fiery preacher act to Boyd’s. Dickie calls out Limehouse and company for screwing him over and would rather go back to prison to get his revenge later rather than accept this obvious con job. All of these scenes crackled with a classic film noir energy and even when we were watching Dewie Crowe be a complete dumb-ass, Dewie is just so damn funny (the comic relief that the show simply must have) that you don’t mind. The show always allows for so much backstory and unexplained relationships to grow that even in an episode where we’re simply seeing different worlds begin to collide, the writing is so top notch that we can simply enjoy watching the pieces come together.

I was very excited to see a surprise appearance from Loretta from last season (whose star as a brilliant young actress was only eclipsed by the tour-de-force that was Margo Martindale as Mags). She’s got a regular acting gig on ABC for Tim Allen’s new show (that’s unfortunate), so we won’t be seeing very much of her. But getting to hear from her one last time was totally worth it. On that note, after four episodes of this season, I feel as if its even better than Season 2 (even if this villain is no Mags). This series took its time finding its voice but now that Justified knows what kind of program it wants to be, there just isn’t anything like it on TV. It’s not quite as good as the fourth season of Breaking Bad or the first season of Game of Thrones, but it’s damn close. It’s undoubtedly better than The Walking Dead. If you’ve somehow stumbled upon this review and haven’t gotten around to watching Justified yet, you need to. It’s one of the best shows on right now, and I just can’t get enough of it.

Final Score: A-

Yesterday was just a great night for TV for me. My last post was a Glee review for one of the strongest episodes of the season, and Justified also kept its own strong (and more violent) brand of storytelling. Since both Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones are between seasons (though Game of Thrones is coming back soon!), Justified has become the best and most consistent show currently airing (that I watch anyways). Worlds are starting to collide in Harlan County, and we’re only three episodes into the season, and we’ve already began amassing quite a body count. Character development keeps getting better (I’m looking at you Ava!) and the show is making better efforts to intertwine the crime of the week stories with the over-arching villains. I just honestly can’t get enough of Justified any more and my addiction to this series only seems to get worse the more time I invest with the cops and robbers of Harlan Kentucky. We may never have shows as good as Oz or The Wire again, but I’ll be satisfied with pulp TV this good.

Much like last week, we’ll split my recap into a Raylen paragraph and a Boyd paragraph. This week begins with Raylen called onto a routine federal fugitive (which is the primary purview of the U.S. Marshalls). It turns out that the escaped fugitive is the same man, Wade, who tied Raylen up to a tree so Dickie could kill him in last season’s finale. Wade escapes the initial road block that was set up to catch him, but his partner isn’t so lucky. When the partner is bailed out of prison by local pawn-shop owner and Dixie Mafia front, Fogel, the partner is forced to play a game of Russian Roulette (called Harlan Roulette here) for Fogel’s amusement and the chance to get a full bottle of oxycontin. The game was rigged though not in the way you’d think. There were never any bullet’s in the gun and Fogel simply kills his incompetent henchman when the game is over. We finally see Quarles and Winn Duffy again as the men that Fogel answers to. Quarles (Neal McDonough for those who still don’t know his name cause it’s never actually been said in the show) is tired of Fogel screwing up so he wants Duffy to ensure that Fogel meets the receiving end of a bullet from Raylen Givens. Quarles’ plan doesn’t work out quite according to plan but by the episode’s end, Fogel and one of his henchmen simultaneously shoot each other to death right before Fogel was going to give up the Dixie Mafia to Raylen for a lesser sentence. Raylen storms over to Winn Duffy trailers and beats the holy hell out of him as “the conversation they weren’t going to have.” Raylen also snaps a picture of Quarles who seems completely unfazed by the presence of this federal officer beating down one of his lieutenants.

In the world of Boyd Crowder, he has enlisted Ava to set up initial communication with Boyd’s new foil, Limehouse. There seems to be some friendly history between Ava and Limehouse, and Limehouse agrees to a meeting with Boyd on the now infamous Harlan county bridge (I would really refrain from doing business with Boyd on that particular stretch of road). Limehouse refuses to give up the location of Mags’ money which is still, in his opinion, the property of Dickie, and he wouldn’t even give it to Boyd if Boyd murdered Dickie. However, he does offer to take Boyd’s rotten weed off of his hands (which is one less storm cloud hanging over Boyd’s head). After giving Devil a talking to about never undermining his and Ava’s authority again, Boyd lays out his plan to take over all of the crime in Harlan like his daddy except without being anybody’s middle man. With the return of Johnny Crowder (I was really starting to wonder where he was), Boyd and his gang take back their old bar and get around to laying the groundwork for their criminal takeover of Harlan County. It should be interesting to see where that goes, especially since the prison guard who let Boyd into Dickie’s cell is now blackmailing Dickie on how to find his mama’s money.

The writing for the episode was as strong as usual for the season and it really did a superb job of weaving the Dixie Mafia stories into the tales of that week’s crime (last weeks stand alone story was mostly separate from everything happening with Boyd and Limehouse). However, the two stand-out moments for me were two brilliantly tense scenes The first is the initial Harlan Roulette scenes. It reminded me a lot of The Deer Hunter which is one of my favorite movies of all time. The tension was just palpable and it reminded me of some of the best moments from last season of Breaking Bad. The other moment is when Raylen finally delivers the righteous beat-down that Winn Duffy has been begging for since Season 1. Quarles had a gun hidden in his sleeve and while Raylen is taunting the defenseless Duffy, Quarles throws back some cold-blooded threats at Raylen that we know he has the means to carry through on (even before the quick draw Raylen would be able to react). Those two are headed for an epic showdown and I can’t wait to be there when the bullets undoubtedly start to fly. Neal McDonough was cast so well for this part, and he’s made this mysterious and bad-ass criminal a force to be reckoned with in Harlan County.

We’re only in the early stages of this season, and it’s already looking to match the highs of the wonderful Season 2 if not surpass them. Quarles might not be as memorable a foe as Mags (simply because he is yet to near the complexity her character featured), but the storytelling has been more consistent and focused, and even Ava seems to have something constructive to contribute to the series. I hate that I have to wait another week to see what happens next in Harlan. I moved from rural Appalachia (WV instead of KY) to the Big Apple recently, and while my home town didn’t have near the crime problem that Harlan has, it’s been nice for me to get a taste of hills and trees and country life when I check in once a week with this program. It’s my schizophrenic mirror back to home.

Final Score: A-

Justified is quickly transforming itself into the little TV show that could. After an entertaining if inconsistent first season, it delivered a second season that finally developed a voice for the series and a unique brand entity that managed to separate Justified from all of the other crime thrillers/cop shows on television (of which there are an extraordinary number). After winning an Emmy and taking a season hiatus, we wondered if it could continue impressing into season 3. Last week’s season premiere was a resounding “yes!” and episode two, “Cut Ties,” says that Justified may be on the way to its best season yet. With three interweaving tales that incorporate a dark and tense stand-alone story (hooray for Nick Searcy carrying much of the episode on his shoulders) as well as the continuing stories of Boyd Crowder’s hunt for Mags Bennets money and Raylen’s new life with his pregnant ex-wife, this episode struck the perfect balance between keeping me enmeshed in this wonderful outlaw world and giving me an entertaining self-contained story.

The episode begins with Winona and Raylen (though Raylen isn’t aware of the schedule) trying to sell her old house that she shared with the now AWOL Gary. When Raylen arrives at the Marshall’s office, he finds Art conversing with an old colleague who’s in town doing some work for Witness Protection (witsec for short). Shortly after the Witsec agent visits a woman in protection, he is murdered by a man it later turns out was one of the witnesses he was in charge of protecting. This causes an agency firestorm and one of the many agents brought into work on the case is an apparent old flame of Raylen’s named Karen Goodall (played by Carla Gugino in what I can only assume is meant to be her Karen Sisco character with the name changed for copyright reasons since that’s also an Elmore Leonard based production). The Marshall Service is spread out trying to protect possibly unsafe (now that their security has been compromised) witnesses and Raylen and Karen are sent out to try and find a man who might know something about it. Art ends up going to protect a man named Terry Powe (Band of Brothers‘ Frank John Hughes) that happens to be the man who killed the Witsec agent. Art is able to put it together that Terry killed his friend thanks to Terry’s GPS and (later) a call from Raylen saying their contact gave Terry up. They discover that Rachel is at the house of the person in witness protection that Terry has sold out, and Rachel takes one of the goons down while Art and Raylen kill the other.

Dickie carried much of the myth arc side of the episode as it is now clear that he intentionally got himself sent to jail with the sole intention of getting his hands of Dickie Bennett (or was that his plan?). The episode doesn’t make it entirely clear but my money leans this way that when Raylen informs Boyd that he’s ensured that he’s getting out of jail in 24 hours, it’s Raylen intentionally cock-blocking Boyd from getting his kill. So, Boyd ad-libs a plan to get himself thrown into solitary confinement where Dickie has been hiding out in fear of Boyd. After intentionally pissing off some black prisoners with his nazi tattoos and getting the holy hell beat out of him, Boyd makes it into solitary where (with the help of a dirty hack [Oz slang for a guard]) it turns out he didn’t want to kill Dickie. He just wants Dickie to tell him where Mags hid the rest of her money which it turns out Boyd hadn’t stolen like Raylen believed. It turns out a man named Ellstin Limestone (Forrest Gump‘s Mykelti Williamson) who’s a criminal leader with a vicious streak and a penchant for burning people’s hands with lye like he’s freaking Tyler Durden in Fight Club.

Nick Searcy had some major screen time last season in the episode about the bank robber who was Art’s Great White Whale, but for the most part, he’s been one of the unsung heroes of the cast. Well, Tuesday, he was front and center, and he nailed it. It turns out that Art was a lot like Raylen in his early days, and we saw some serious flashes of it in this episode when he went to town on Terry Powe to try and save the witness that Terry had ratted out. Channeling his inner Raylen, he knocked the guy around a little bit and threatened to kill him if he didn’t talk. While it was certainly strange to see Art calling an audible like that (since he normally plays it so close to the rules and is supposed to be Raylen’s conscious), it made for compelling and morally ambiguous TV. I don’t think that Art would have had it in him to kill an undefended guy like that, but Nick Searcy did such a great job of evoking the moral outrage that Art would have felt against a rat who sold out the same man who had been protecting him for years that you had to applaud his performance. Mykelti Williamson also made an instant mark with his time at the end of the episode and he should make a compelling foil to the criminal enterprises of Boyd Crowder.

This season is really shaping up to be something special. Unless you count Arlo or potentially the more amorphous Miami Cartel leaders as Big Bads in Season 1 (which I don’t since I feel that role clearly went to Bo Crowder), this season could be the first with more than one Big Bad and both Boyd and Raylen will have their own major villain to contend with (Quarles for Raylen and Limestone for Boyd). While I certainly hope that Raylen and Boyd cross paths as often as possible, they both seem to be contending with fairly titanic forces of villainry so I’m ok with whatever direction Graham Yost and company decide to take the show in. I just want to see more of Nick Searcy because after tonight, he proved that he could give as good a performance as anyone else in the cast and that he’s still a force to be reckoned with in his own right.

Final Score: A-